Ferne was born September 4, 1921 in Dodge North Dakota. She moved with her parents to LongviewWashington when she was three yrs. Old, and then to Oregon. Ferne was the third child of Kathreen and Earl Hecker. She had an older sister, June, who passed away in 2001. One brother, Bill of Palmer, and three younger sisters, Alice of Port Orchard, Washington, Barbara of Palmer and Beverly Joyce of Livermore, Calif.
The family came to Alaska in 1938 as replacement Colonists to the Matanuska Valley. Ferne was seventeen that year. She attended Palmer High School where she met Lester Jackson Leek and fell in love. They married in Palmer October 7, 1939. Their first child Michael was born November 21, 1940, followed by Cheryl October 27, 1944. Jacqueline was born July 26, 1950. Ferne was a full time mother and homemaker until the 1960’s when she was employed at the Post Office in Palmer, retiring in 1972. After Jack’s death in 1993, she moved into the Willow Point apartments then into the Palmer Pioneer Home in 1997.
Ferne was a fun person. She liked to pull practical jokes on her family and friends. She always had a joke to tell.
Sister Alice writes that she fondly remembers the Fantastic sense of Humor that Ferne had. She was such a practical joker always pulling jokes on anyone she could. She said that Ferne always showed kindness to everyone. She was always quick to take in one or more of the younger siblings or siblings children whenever they needed help. Alice tearfully remembers how when we first moved to Alaska and moved into the house on the corner of Fishhook and Campbell road she and Ferne slept together. Alice says she was afraid of the dark (of course it wasn’t dark as it was June and light outside all night) but, Ferne would pull the shade down and Alice would get up and put the shade up. They did this back and forth until Dad would holler up the stairs for them to “settle down and go to sleep”. Alice was laughing by the time she finished telling this story.
Sisters Barbara and Joyce both remember Ferne as being like a second Mother. Barbara spent many months at a time after their Dad died living with Ferne and Jack as she was growing up. Sister June’s boys, Larry and Billy also spent a lot of time there, it was a haven for us that we knew we could always receive help and a place to sleep if we needed it. Ferne even let Barbara’s friend Bonita stay with Barbara one summer while they both worked at the Frontier Café. This was at the time when Mike and Cheryl were small.
Mike remembers our house as the central meeting place of the neighborhood kids.
We loved Ferne very much and will miss her terribly.
Mom had a faith in God which was strong concerning her health and well being of her children, especially her youngest who has gone through several illnesses. She always believed that the Great Physician would restore her to good health.
Up until the time she quit talking she had a sense of humor and had a smile for her visitors. I will never forget that Pastor Chris captured her last smile when he visited her.
Ferne was a great cook and the family members loved going to her house to eat.
Sarita, Colin, Tara and I had gone to Fairbanks for a pig roast two days before Ferne passed. On the road Sarita mentioned that we should have swung by and seen Ferne. As always hind site makes us wish.We were notified by our son Charlie on Friday.
My memories of the sweetest lady I have ever known other then Sarita.
Although I have earlier memories the important ones to me of Aunt Ferne relate to her open arms everytime I arrived at her door. No matter if expected or just a dropin she always made me feel welcomed and loved. I like other members of the family spent a lot of time at the Leek home. Looking back almost makes me feel sorry for Uncle Jack as Ferne always kept the door open for family.
Sarita also spent time with them when we returned to Alaska after my service in the Marines. I took a job at Suntrana Mine and Sarita stayed till I could get housing for her. She also went down to Palmer and stayed when our first child was about to be born as no medical facilities at Suntrana.
I used Ferne as my family information center to find out what everyone was up to. Most family members kept in contact with her better then with others.
Ferne loved our smoked Salmon and was always willing to give me her proxy so I could catch more fish. This year so far she caught two Kings and is fixing to catch some Silvers.